Page:The new British province of South Australia.djvu/32

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of guarding against the ravages of water, is confirmed by observing the effects and causes of a total neglect by the Australian settlers of the means by which, in corresponding latitudes of Europe, Asia, and Africa, water is made to exert a fertilizing power. Though during the course of a year more rain, it is believed, falls in New South Wales than in England, the Australian settlers suffer terribly from long periods without rain—from what they call "Australian droughts;" and vast tracts of laud in that colony, which would be thought excellent if constantly supplied with water, are but little esteemed, because deficient in that natural quality. But this would be the case in some of the most fertile and populous districts of Europe, Africa, and Asia, if their inhabitants should, like the Australians, depend wholly upon nature for a supply of water. The extraordinary fertility of the left bank of the Po, from the source almost of that river to its mouths, depends upon skill in the management of its tributary streams—upon artificial irrigation. The Nile, if its waters were not skilfully guided by man, would only devastate, instead of fertilizing. When the north-west of Africa supported many populous nations, it must have been by means of the greatest skill in preserving water that fell from the clouds, and in raising water from the bowels of the earth. Many fertile parts of Spain, the South of Italy, Greece, and Turkey, would become barren if it were not for wells, pumps, reservoirs, and aqueducts. In the countries round about the Caspian Sea, where a very dense population once existed, there are mixed with the ruins of cities, the ruins of all sorts of contrivances for the management of water; and in order to restore the